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  Regenerating the Kibwezi Forest - 5/6/2013
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Since securing a thirty-year concession to conserve the Kibwezi Forest in partnership with the Kenya Forest Service (KFS), the DSWT has been focusing on the regeneration of the woodland areas especially within hot-spots, which were once heavily degraded during the long period when the Forest was defenseless against unsustainable extraction. A tree nursery has since been established within the Umani camp compound, which has successfully cultivated over 11,000 indigenous tree seedlings. Five indigenous tree species were chosen to be grown in the nursery including Acacia Mellifera, which is a common thorn tree in Kenya producing sweet-smelling blossom which is a great source of nectar for honey-producing bees. Acacia Tortilis, known as the umbrella thorn tree was also chosen as well as Adansonia Digitata, the Baobab tree, which produces wonderful fruit, Newtonia Hildebrandtii, and Tabernaemontana Ventericosa also known as the forest toad tree, which has unusual fruits, attracting a host of birds, insects and small mammals.

In the Kibwezi tree nursery  Transporting the saplings

These five species were grown from seeds in the Forests dedicated tree nursery, nurtured for around eighteen months before the matured saplings were ready to be planted. Over the period of a month a team of 30 women employed from the local communities worked alongside a team of 26 of the DSWTs casual labourers, also employed from the bordering villages, planting the tree saplings in their designated zones. The planting began in early April 2013, before the onset of the rains, to ensure the saplings had the best chance of survival.

The local women at work  Casuals planting trees

The indigenous tree saplings  Preparing to plant

Acacia Mellifera saplings were planted within the Kenze, Kithasyo abd Umani Hill zones, whilst over 1400 baobabs were also planted within the Kenze area. Nearly 3000 Tabernaemontana saplings were selected to be planted within the ground-water forest zone of the springs and the Acacia Totilis trees were planted surrounding the periphery of the springs, the nursery and the camp. The planting program was completed successfully and the all the saplings have since been monitored revealing over a 90% success rate. The project was not only hugely beneficial to the Forest supporting and encouraging its natural revival, but also to the bordering communities who are not only in need of employment but also experience and skills in the propagation and protection of forested habitats and how important they are to the future of the environment and wildlife as a whole.

A local man planting a sapling  Women carrying saplings

   

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